SpecGram Vol CXC, No 4 Contents Letters to the Editor

Here We Go Again
or, This Too Shall Pass

A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

Longtime1 readers of SpecGram will recall this journal’s most recent phœnexian rebirth in 2004, which was followed a few months and two issues later by the Brood X Magicicada Super Issue, a “celebratory” observance of the invasion of our D.C. offices by uncontrolled throngs of Brood X Magicicada septendecim. As any competent entomologist (and, really, any half-competent etymologist) could tell you, the offspring of that summer’s nominal locusts are to be expected to come calling seventeen years later.2

And thusa generation later, in the year 2021I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and can’t help but think, “Here we go again...”

They fill the air with their ceaseless, pointless droning, flitting and fluttering gracelessly and without apparent purpose from place to place, brainlessly bumping into and bouncing off of their biological betters, collectively barely sensate enough to seek some semblance of orgiastic oblivion before their inevitable demise. I’m speaking, of course, of the current crop of midsummer interns... though looking back at my words I see that an uncareful reader3 might mistake my musings for Magicicada maligningsomething I am in fact more than happy to engage in, just not at this particular moment.

I don’t want to devolve into yelling at the interns for being on my lawn,4 but kids these days... what can I say? They barely know what a book is. They couldn’t make a philological argument to save their own lives.5 They can’t differentiate semantics and pragmatics, nor semiotics and semiology, nor Prof. Noarn Chornsky and Prof. Noam Chomsky. Even spoon-feeding them Phlogiston’s Cartoon Theories of Linguistics leaves them no less dim than before. They prattle on about computational “linguistics”, computer “science”, statistical “models”, artificial “intelligence”, machine “learning”, and “neural” networkswith nary a clue what most of those words even mean, much less how they (fail to) apply to real linguistics.8 Not a one of them could pass a basic, proper phonology test without a computational crutch.9

Despite a lack of any evidence of any actual humanity among them, I have tried to connect to them on a human level. But, yet again, they let me down. Nary a one of them has seen Vowel Space, The Trill Hunter, Conan the Librarian, Green Linguarian,10 John Stuart Mill and the Temple of Doom, The Uvular Suspects, E.T. the Extrametrical, or any other of the classiest of the classics.

Nonetheless, as every summer must eventually come to an end, I remind myself, “This too shall pass.” Eventually, nothing will be left but the hollowed out husks and other detritus of their revolting molting, the echos of their shrill mating calls having faded to a peevish quietude. I’m speaking, of course, of the current crop of perennial old fogeys emeritus,11 who waste so much time and energy yelling ineffectually at the current crop of midsummer interns... though looking back at my words I see that an uncareful reader12 might mistake my musings for Magicicada maligningsomething I am in fact more than happy to engage in, just not at this particular moment.

Perhaps I have been too harsh on both the new interns and the old fogeys.13 We have all been feeling broodier since the last Brood X issue; maybe it’s time to lighten up a bit and enjoy the season.

O aestās !

PS: Those pesky tribes of vermin are now gone from my presence, each for their respective season,14 though not before delaying this issue so much that we had to recast it as the Mid-July issue to save face. It’s all been too much, and we’re15 taking a European-style16 August Vacation. Speculative Grammarian will return in September.

1 Relatively speaking, of course. By the helter-skelter, willy-nilly, pell-mell, and otherwise generally reduplicative measure of Internet Time™ in the Internet Age™, 17 years is forever. For true devotees of SpecGram, it is, at most “a spell”.

SpecGram has an internal system of ranks for the longevity of subscriptions, with those of the greatest antiquity having been bequeathed down through the generations. The barest outline of the system of ranks and sub-ranks, based on subscription length in years, is presented below:

< 10 Nihilum 10 Parchment 11 Palimpsest 13 Papyrus 15 Bookfell 17 Vellum 19 Sheepskin 20 Paper 21 Towel 22 Tiger 23 Clip 24 Trail 25 Mâché 26 Origami 27 Proofread 28 Submitted 29 Accepted 30 Tenuretrackium 40 Leather 41 Lederhosen 43 Recliner 45 Glove 47 Jacket 49 Pants 50 Iron 53 Deficiency 56 Curtain 59 Mask 62 Fist 65 Lung 68 Maiden 71 Butterfly 74 Y 75 Copper 83 Wire 92 Pipe

100 Bronze 106 Statue 112 Star 118 Age 125 Lace 131 Doily 137 Garter 143 Négligée 150 Silver 154 Lining 158 Tongue 162 Bullet 165 Stevienicksium 175 Gold 176 Digger 178 Standard 179 Dust 180 Leaf 182 Star 183 Rush 184 Fever 185 Golden 186 Calf 188 Shower 189 Horde 190 Handcuffs 191 Ratio 193 Goose 194 Fleece 196 Parachute 197 Rule 199 Retriever 200 Diamond 204 in the Rough 208 Cut 212 Color

216 Clarity 220 Carat 225 Saw 229 Ring 233 Back 237 Bracket 241 Square Algorithm 245 Water Paradox 250 Moonstone 300 Sunstone 350 Antimatter 400 Historicitite 416 Red Mercury 433 Phlogiston 450 Orichalcum 466 Hihi’irokane 483 Depleted Uranium 500 Cinematicine 509 Upsidaisium 518 Latinum 527 Dilithium 536 Trilithium 545 Naquahdah 554 Tylium 563 Carbonite 572 Beskar 581 Quantium-40 590 Turbinium 600 Comiconium 614 Kryptonite 628 Uru 643 Vibranium 657 Amazonium 671 Nth Metal 686 Adamantium 700 Literatite

709 Thiotimoline 718 Vril 727 Octiron 736 Stygium 745 Cavorite 754 Arenak 763 Dimeritium 772 Scrith 781 Mithril 790 Galvorn 800 Computronium 820 Turing Complete 840 P ≠ NP 860 P = NP 880 Hedonium 900 Unobtanium 916 Bolognium 933 Handwavium 950 Raritanium 966 Impossibrium 983 Eludium 1000 Tenurite 1125 Full 1250 Distinguished 1375 Emeritus 1500 Alchēmium 1550 Γῆ 1600 Ὕδωρ 1650 Ἀήρ 1700 Πῦρ 1750 Αἰθήρ 1800 Alkahest 1850 Quintessence 1900 Māteria Prīma
1950 Lapis Philosophōrum

2 Cicadas returning every seventeen years makes their visits a smidge more than three times as frequent as those of the Grammar Entelechy. By coincidence, cicadas are also slightly more than three times as attractive as the representatives of the Grammar Entelechy, and easily three times as welcome to visit.

Less coincidentally, our editorial strategy for dealing with the Grammar Entelechy is similar to the cicada’s reproductive strategy for dealing with their antagonists: predator satiation. Cicadas inundate their attackers with more prey than they can eat; SpecGram overwhelms the Grammar Entelechy with more interns than it can rip souls from.

3 Worried you might be an uncareful reader? You probably are, but if you checked the footnotes there’s at least some hope for you.

4 That, of course, is a lie. I would love to do that, especially while turning on the sprinklers and releasing the hounds.

5 This is arguably not even hyperbole. Though they scatter like vermin6 when I come into their holding pen each morning, I can always corner a few of them. I ask them to make a simple philological argument, and those that fail to do sowhich is all of them, by the wayare ejected from the building.7 Since a SpecGram internship is clearly more valuable than their worthless lives, Q.E.D.

6 As vermin will.

7 The engineering interns have suggested using a trebuchet for literal ejection, but the legal interns have made a convincing argument that doing so is unlawful. The philosophy interns suggested that it was also immoral, at which point the legal interns implied that using the trebuchet on philosophy interns might be a legal grey area.

8 i.e., philology, as previously discussed.

9 The worst use actual electronic computers to do their work, but even those who require less powerful computational aidssuch as pencil and paperare still an embarrassment.

10 Admittedly Green Linguarian is not the greatest cinematolingual achievement of a generation or anything. I even gave it a fairly poor review1.5 out of 5 Stonesalmost ten years ago. But these whippersnappers haven’t even heard of it. Its awfulness has aged like a fine whine, and these pipsqueaks cannot appreciate it.

11 That is, the ones whose keys to the executive washroom we are unable to reclaim, whether for contractual or pure practical reasonsold fogey strength is real!

12 See footnote 3, if you haven’t already.

13 Actually, probably notthey are all a bunch of pains in my derrière. But the psychology interns claim that it may be better for my own mental health to cut them some slack. I remain unconvinced.

14 Seventeen years underground for the cicadas, the rest of the summer in the work pits for the interns, the rest of the afternoon in the Napatorium Emeritus for the old fogeys.

15 The Editorial We, of course. I’ll be lounging along the placid shores of the [REDACTED] Riviera with a favored subset of the Editorial Board, while the Lesser Editors and interns work double shifts. C’est la vie.

16 The EU legal interns inform me that, due to the failure of the Speculeave Grammaretreat initiative (a.k.a. SpexitGramexit), I have to inform you that it is only a “European August Vacation” if you are primarily employed in one of the August-Vacationing Regions of Europe. Otherwise, it is just a sparkling month-long vacation.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CXC, No 4 Contents